Skip to comments.Couple Who Lost a Son on Sept. 11 Now Loses Niece Aboard the Shuttle
Posted on 02/01/2003 1:47:57 PM PST by krodriguesdc
Couple Who Lost a Son on Sept. 11 Now Loses Niece Aboard the Shuttle
By Miranda Leitsinger Associated Press Writer Published: Feb 1, 2003
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Astronaut Laurel Clark's death on the space shuttle Columbia was the second sudden and very public tragedy to hit Doug and Betty Haviland in 17 months. Laurel Clark was their niece and her final moments were broadcast again and again on television Saturday, exploding white dots 200,000 feet above the earth.
On Sept. 11, 2001, television had first brought tragedy. The Havilands were watching after the World Trade Center absorbed the impact of a terrorist-piloted jetliner, burned, then collapsed with their 41-year-old son Timothy inside.
"It was a very deja vu sort of thing, you know, we watched those towers smoking and eventually collapsing and then you see this space shuttle breaking apart. Here it is all over again," said Doug Haviland, a 76-year-old retired Episcopal minister of Ames, Iowa.
Clark, 41, was one of seven astronauts on board the space shuttle when it disintegrated streaking over Texas toward a landing at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Saturday.
The Haviland's son, Timothy, worked for Marsh & McLennan Inc., on the 96th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. He and Laurel Clark were friends as well as cousins.
"Tim had planned to go the launch, but it was not to be," said his mother, Betty Haviland, 73.
Instead, Clark and her son ended up attending a memorial for Timothy in November 2001.
Timothy's wife, Amy, lost a brother in the Sept. 11 attacks. Robert W. Spear Jr., 30, was a firefighter with the New York Fire Department.
Betty Haviland couldn't but mention the slim chances of any husband and wife watching the broadcast deaths of two loved ones.
"Grief and death happens to a lot of people, but you don't usually watch it on national television and not once but a thousand times. And you can't not watch because that's your son or your niece up there," Betty Haviland said.
Doug Haviland said he spoke briefly Saturday with his sister, Marjory, Clark's mother.
"She's in the most difficult situation in this event. So I'm sure she's feeling pretty numb and swamped as we were when the 9/11 tragedy happened," Haviland said. "Hopefully, we can support her as much as possible."
Astronaut Clark was born in Ames while her father studied at Iowa State University. She lived in the central Iowa town for two years before moving with her family to Racine, Wis., which she considered her hometown.
The Havilands said they got to see Clark at family gatherings or when she came to visit her 96-year-old grandmother at an Ames retirement home.
Doug Haviland said his last message from her was an e-mail sent to relatives from space.
"I just picked (it) up yesterday. She was, you know, thrilled taking lots of pictures and could see the area in Wisconsin on one of their pass-overs where they had lived for several years ... looking forward to sharing all this with her friends and family," Haviland said. "She died doing what she wanted to do."
Doug and Betty Haviland hold a small U.S. flag quilt given to them following the death of their son Timothy Haviland in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, Aug. 7, 2002, in their Ames, Iowa, home. The Haviland's neice, Laurel Clark, was one of seven astronauts on board the space shuttle Columbia that broke apart in flames over Texas, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2003, killing all seven astronauts aboard. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Racine astronaut Laurel Clark, who had anxiously waited more than two years for her first trip into space, was among the seven crew members killed when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated in flames 200,000 feet above north central Texas today.
Clark, 41, a Navy diving doctor and 1979 graduate of Racine Horlick High School, was responsible for operating much of the science payload on the 16-day mission. In addition to performing experiments, Clark was involved in many of the human life science tests aboard the spacecraft.
In an interview this week in a teleconferencing call from Columbia, she said that other than battling high temperatures inside the shuttle's lab and trying to adapt to space, the trip had been everything she thought it would be, and more.
"This has been a great experience for me," she said at the time. "The first couple of days you don't always feel too well. I feel wonderful now. The first couple of days you adjust to the fluid shifting, how to fly through space without hitting things or anybody else. But then after a couple of days you get in a groove. It's just an incredibly magical place."
Clark had long awaited this mission. When she was assigned to the STS-107 mission in July 2000, the launch was planned for June 2001. But a series of unrelated delays and higher priorities for other shuttle flights postponed Clark's flight again and again.
After high school, Clark went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned degrees in zoology and medicine before joining the Navy. As a Navy diving doctor, Clark has been on several submarine tours of duty. NASA selected Clark as an astronaut in 1996.
Clark, married with an 8-year-old son, was on-board when Columbia roared into space at 9:39 a.m. CST Jan. 16. Clark's mother, Marge Brown, was on-hand for the launch, along with Clark's brothers and sister, Jon, Dan and Lynne Salton. Family members said at the time that the first few minutes of the launch had them extremely nervous.
"Anyone who has watched (video of the) Challenger (accident) can't even hardly bear going through" the point where the Challenger exploded, Jon Salton said Jan. 16. "After that point you can relax."
Lynne Salton said, "When we saw the solid rocket boosters drop away, everything was still fine, my heart lifted a little, and then they got to 'main engine cutoff.' "
In 42 years of U.S. human space flight, there had never been an accident during the descent to Earth or landing. On Jan. 28, 1986, space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff.
This mission received more attention than most flights because one of the crew members, Ilan Ramon, was an Israeli pilot. In 1995 the U.S. invited Israel to fly a passenger on the shuttle to operate an experiment for Israeli scientists.